“Anything you can do, I can do better, I can do better than you. No you can not ! Yes I can!” Perhaps (indeed, almost certainly) Irving Berlin hadn’t had footballing rivalries, much less the perennial feud between Boca Juniors and River Plate, in mind when he composed this maddening and catchy ditty, but it perfectly sums up the spirit of one-upmanship that constantly circulates between supporters of the Buenos Aires giants, and often between players and coaches themselves.
So if one of Superclassic was to bring back one of their past heroes, it made perfect sense for the other to follow suit. Within 24 hours on Thursday, Boca and River had a returning idol to show off: the former sealed the signing of star striker Darío Benedetto, while Núñez’s club announced with fanfare the ‘Return of the King’ – Colombian playmaker Juan Fernando Quintero.
“I’m so happy, I’m really grateful,” Quintero told reporters upon arriving in Argentina, nearly four years to the day since he first joined River in 2018. , I can’t wait to meet my new teammates.
At the time, the Colombian was something of an enigma for the Millionaire loyal. Gifted with sparkling footballing talent, in particular an almost supernatural ability to kick a soccer ball, Quintero had impressed as a youth at Envigado and Atlético Nacional before seeing his career stall in Europe, bouncing around in four clubs in just five years and drawing heavy criticism over his work rate and general physical appearance before coming to River on an initial loan.
The rest is history. Initially a useful impact substitute with rather suspect stamina, the playmaker found himself in fine form and in the hearts of his new employers, achieving legendary status with his winning goal in the 2018 Copa Libertadores at the expense of no one else. that the Xeneize.
The question is which Quintero returned to Buenos Aires? The wizard of those River years, or the player who struggled to establish himself last year in China for Shanghai Shenhua, who was happy to let him go to more familiar ground? And how much will his previous exploits count this time around?
The same can be said for Benedetto. During his first spell at Boca, the striker was nothing short of spectacular, scoring almost 50 times in three seasons – including a goal in each leg of this Libertadores Superfinal – and leading the club to back-to-back Primera Division titles before leave for Marseilles. in 2019. His recent form, however, is a little less impressive. The last two years for the French club and most recently Elche in Spain have scored just eight goals, while last month due to Covid-19 and injury he made just one appearance on the bench for the La Liga team.
There’s no doubt that Boca could benefit from a proven centre-forward of Benedetto’s caliber. The position has been a problem for the club since his departure, with Ramón Ábila and Franco Soldano failing to live up to the standards set by their predecessor.
Nostalgia, however, can be a dangerous drug. Both giants have a responsibility to temper expectations of their prodigal sons, however difficult that may be behind the fan and media hype for two players who, after all, have been on the downward slope since their departure. Give them a clean slate and the chance to get back into shape and everyone could be fine; expect them to pick up where they left off and disappointment is the most likely outcome.
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